Accuracy of a community mental health education and detection (CMED) tool for common mental disorders in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Merridy Grant, Inge Petersen, Londiwe Mthethwa, Zamasomi Luvuno, Arvin Bhana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Screening tools for mental health disorders improve detection at a primary health care (PHC) level. However, many people with mental health conditions do not seek care because of a lack of knowledge about mental health, stigma about mental illness and a lack of awareness of mental health services available at a PHC facility level. Interventions at a community level that raise awareness about mental health and improve detection of mental health conditions, are thus important in increasing demand and optimising the supply of available mental health services. This study sought to evaluate the accuracy of a Community Mental Health Education and Detection (CMED) Tool in identifying mental health conditions using pictorial vignettes. Methods: Community Health Workers (CHWs) administered the CMED tool to 198 participants on routine visits to households. Consenting family members provided basic biographical information prior to the administration of the tool. To determine the accuracy of the CMED in identifying individuals in households with possible mental health disorders, we compared the number of individuals identified using the CMED vignettes to the validated Brief Mental Health (BMH) screening tool. Results: The CMED performed at an acceptable level with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.73 (95% CI 0.67–0.79), identifying 79% (sensitivity) of participants as having a possible mental health problem and 67% (specificity) of participants as not having a mental health problem. Overall, the CMED positively identified 55.2% of household members relative to 49.5% on the BMH. Conclusion: The CMED is acceptable as a mental health screening tool for use by CHWs at a household level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


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